I jumped at the chance to meet with Damon Kahi, national technologist at The Mind Lab at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). Our conversation was going to deliver some decisive answers and hopefully dismiss those scary rumours around the damage technology is having on the youth of today.
We settled down amidst screens, keyboards, cameras, and robotic limbs. Our agenda was set, we were ready to tackle it all: kids, holidays, technology, and the future.
As a mother of three primary-aged children, I’d arrived for our chat eager to be ‘let off the hook’. Screen-time was going to be officially ‘A-OK’, no more nagging or clock-watching required, the future is digital after all and my kids would need to embrace this virtual world or risk being left behind.
Log on kids, off you go – just be home in time for dinner!
Thankfully, for all concerned, my foolish fantasy was quickly dispelled, and I’m excited (and relieved) to say that, for my children and every other family with Wi-Fi, the digital future looks set to be much more inspiring thanks to the experts at The Mind Lab.
The Mind Lab team appear to have settled well into their purpose-built creative space within MOTAT, it seems like a perfect alignment with the museum’s eclectic mix of past, present and future experiences.
Already respected for delivering award-winning programmes for school groups, The Mind Lab at MOTAT’s School Holiday Workshops have now started to attract equal attention from parents and educators alike.
“Each of our sessions is focuses on a category of skill sets, for example robotics, animation, or perhaps 3D design,” explains Damon.
“From there our EdTech Educators educators develop a lesson theme based around a real-world problem, something that has particular resonance with our young participants. In the past we’ve applied 3D design skills to building prototype machines that can remove plastic pollution from the ocean or we’ve channelled graphic design skills into building websites that will inform our communities about recycling and sustainability issues.
“Along the way we’ve learnt that kids are quick to pick up the skills required, getting to grips with the tools and the tech side of things is not a problem. However, what really kick starts their enthusiasm is realising they can apply these skills to solve real-life ‘grown up’ problems.
“It’s an empowering realisation, they get a massive confidence boost and we can see, when children come back to do other workshops, that this confidence boost has a lasting impact on how they approach learning going forward. Our EdTech Educators educators guide the sessions with framework, context and, skills and by the end of the day the children leave with a full sense of achievement and a clear understanding of why technology exists and how to use it to get where they want to go in the future.”
The beauty of working with young people in this way is watching them use their imaginations to full effect. Kids don’t tend to be as burdened with experience, or obsessed over the need to be right, or hamstrung by preconceived ideas like adults.
“When it comes to thinking outside the box they just really go for it, and then blow you away even further by communicating their ideas in simple, eloquent and reasoned ways.”
The Mind Lab at MOTAT have some of New Zealand’s most respected educators in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Their award-winning brand of teaching will help push your child’s creative and tech-based skill set far beyond anything a traditional school environment can offer.
If you’re looking to give your youngsters a digital holiday this Christmas, a nag-free chance to plug in and tune out for a day then The Mind Lab at MOTAT is not for you.
But, if you’re looking to give your youngsters a head start on their future, if you want them to experience the empowerment that comes from matching their creativity with cutting edge skills, then The Mind Lab at MOTAT School Holiday Workshops should definitely be on your family wish list this Christmas.
The Mind Lab at MOTAT School Holiday Workshop Programme will run workshops throughout the Summer holidays. Each full-day workshop covers two different skill-set categories. Visit motat.org.nz/mindlab for the full school holiday workshop schedule and to book.